What are you studying at ITMO?

I am currently enrolled in ITMO’s Foundation Program, where I am learning the Russian language. After completing this course, I will enter the Bachelor’s program Computer Systems and Technologies. However, I might change to Software Engineering because I am more interested in software development.

What made you interested in Russian education?

My mom teaches political science in Bangladesh. She has always told me stories about Russia and its rich history. Listening to these stories, I developed a dream of studying in Russia. Then I came across the scholarship opportunities provided by the Government of Russia. Making the decision was not tough thereafter. ITMO was the top university on my priority list.

Why did you select ITMO as your first choice?

ITMO is a reputable and trusted university worldwide. Being an aspiring computer technologist, I was thrilled to know that ITMO was the champion of the International Collegiate Programming Contest for a record seven times!

What was the application process like for you?

I applied for a scholarship at the Russian Center for Science and Culture (Rossotrudnichestvo) in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. I had to pass an exam. It was not very difficult. Once I was accepted by the university, everything was very smooth, thanks to the amazing support of the international team at ITMO. When I found out that I got my visa, it was a magical moment for me. I was a little sad to leave my family behind in Bangladesh but I was equally excited for the future.

Sharaf is currently learning Russian as part of ITMO’s Foundation Program. Photo courtesy of the subject

Sharaf is currently learning Russian as part of ITMO’s Foundation Program. Photo courtesy of the subject

What has your experience in Russia been like so far?

I watched several videos of Russia and St. Petersburg months before getting the visa. When I arrived in St. Petersburg, I was thrilled to see everything in reality. It was like living a dream. I am absolutely mesmerized by this city.

How are you coping with the winter?

I knew that St. Petersburg is a very cold country. I prepared myself with warm clothes and snow boots. Walking on snow is a bit tough. It is like walking on sand. You have to put extra effort into each step. But it is good for your health. I am liking this new weather a lot. I am experiencing snow for the first time in my life. I am really enjoying my new life.

Are you into sports?

Yes, I like playing cricket. It is a very popular sport in Bangladesh. I also love watching soccer. I am a huge fan of the Zenit Saint Petersburg football club. I hope I’ll be able to see a soccer match at the Gazprom Arena. I am really excited for the UEFA Champions League Final, which is going to be hosted at the Gazprom Arena in May 2022.

Have you tried skiing or ice skating yet?

I have never tried any of these sports. To be honest, I have no experience in ice skating. However, I might learn a few of these sports during my four-year stay in St. Petersburg.

Do you have any favorite Russian food?

I am a foodie. So, every kind of food is heavenly for me. I have been exploring different types of Russian food. So far, my favorite dish has been shawarma. I also like donuts a lot. I am a fan of spicy foods. I have brought lots of spices from Bangladesh. I cook my own food almost every day.

Where do you have your classes?

I have all my classes on the Lomonosova St. 9 campus. The Foreign Language Training Center is located here. All the classes for the Foundation Program are held here. Next year, when I start my Bachelor’s studies, I might have classes in the other campuses.

Sharaf has all his classes at the Lomonosova St. 9 campus. Photo courtesy of the subject

Sharaf has all his classes at the Lomonosova St. 9 campus. Photo courtesy of the subject

What is living in a dormitory like for you?

I am enjoying my stay in a dormitory. I live in the dormitory located at Vyazemsky Lane. My roommate is also Bangladeshi. He is currently enrolled in the Foundation Program with me. However, from next year, he will be pursuing a Master’s degree. It is good to have a roommate from the same country. It helps in communication and I also feel somewhat at home. The dormitory itself is very clean with all modern facilities. It is a block-type dorm, so we have our own bathroom. The kitchen is equipped with all the necessary gadgets. I must admit, I didn’t expect the dorm to be so good.

Did you get an ITMO Buddy?

Surprisingly, no! I was told that students of the Foundation Program don’t get a Buddy, which is strange. It seems like only the students enrolled in the main educational tracks do. In my opinion, every new international student should get a Buddy, including those enrolled in the Foundation Program.

Are you interested in joining any student club?

Yes, of course. I am interested in joining the anime club and the gaming club. I am a huge fan of anime and I like gaming in my free time.

What are your hobbies?

My hobbies include painting and singing. I also love traveling but mostly in my free time I like to paint or sing a song. When I don’t feel like doing anything, I Netflix and chill.

Sharaf loves to paint and sing in his leisure time. Photo courtesy of the subject

Sharaf loves to paint and sing in his leisure time. Photo courtesy of the subject

How are you getting ready for your exams?

I had a wonderful new year. I hope everyone did the same. But now it’s time to get back to studies. I will be having my Russian A2 exams. I will make my own personal study schedule and invest some quality time practicing Russian daily. Grammar is the most difficult topic, but with good practice I am sure I can do well.

What are your expectations from ITMO?

I am looking forward to some good training at ITMO. I know the programs at ITMO are designed to provide you with the perfect blend of theoretical and practical knowledge. There are also a number of soft-skills courses that are taught here. They are essential nowadays. I hope I will be a much better person coming out of ITMO.

What would you like to say to fellow students in Bangladesh?

I would definitely recommend them to consider Russia as a destination for their education. At the same time, I would also tell them to collect as much information as they can. Studying in Russia has its own pros and cons. For example, most of the Bachelor’s programs in Russia are taught in Russian. That might be a challenge for international students. But if you are ready for it, then it is a challenge worth accepting. I can assure everyone that studying in Russia is a decision you will never regret.

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